Focusing on William A. W. Dempsey’s DNA Using Chromosomes Analysis and Segment Maps

I took a break from blogging to give myself time to work on a DNA problem. It was only supposed to be for a few weeks, a month tops. Except for my article on the flooding in our part of Europe, I haven’t posted any new content to my blog in two and a half months.

As many of my readers know, I’ve been doing genealogy for nearly three decades and blogging in my eighth year. Writing for my blog has taught me to be a better researcher and writer.

DNA is complicated

This may be one of the reasons people who have their DNA tested are more interested in their ethnicity than in looking into who they got their DNA from. Many are not into genealogy or have the time to spend hours analyzing match lists or creating quick bare-bones trees (also known as Q&D or quick-and-dirty trees) for matches. In writing this post, I hope to reach some of my many distant cousins who could help me with my search.

Understanding where the DNA comes from

I’ve been working with my brother’s autosomal DNA results for over five years, my own for nearly two years, and my mother’s for a year and a half. All three were done with AncestryDNA.

Maternal Matches

Mom’s test has helped sort the maternal matches but wasn’t really necessary. My brother and I have few matches who are descended from our maternal lines as our mother is Luxembourgish – with all known ancestors coming from Luxembourg or parts of France, Germany, and Belgium that were once part of a greater Luxembourg. Close cousins (4th cousins or closer) on AncestryDNA total 375 compared to the circa 3,000 that my brother and I have. Many of the 275 are descendants of Luxembourg emigrants who settled in America. Our mother is their link back to Luxembourg and helps anchor their DNA.

Paternal Matches

My brother’s and my autosomal DNA results have confirmed the paper trail we have for our known paternal ancestors for at least six generations. For some branches in the tree, we have confirmation for nine generations or more.

Color groups on AncestryDNA

To better understand where the DNA comes from, I worked out a color/group system on AncestryDNA that goes back to the 6th generation ancestors (my paternal 4th great-grandparents). This helps to sort new matches.

Screenshot courtesy of AncestryDNA.

As the parents of my 2nd great-grandfather, William A. W. DEMPSEY are unknown, the first group is for the 4th generation ancestors. This allowed me to split the HONAKER-WISEMAN matches into two sub-groups: HONEGGER-GOETZ (as HONAKER was previously written) and WISEMAN-DAVIS of the 7th generation. As can be seen by the numbers in parenthesis, these are large clusters of matches.

PGF – paternal grandfather (blue)
PGM – paternal grandmother (green)
MGF – maternal grandfather (pink)
MGM -maternal grandmother (yellow)

Using colors in the family tree

The colors I use on AncestryDNA for the groups match the colors used in genealogy software charts.

The pedigree chart courtesy of Ancestral Quest 16

Mapping the DNA segments with GDAT

The same color system has been used to map our known DNA segments using the Genealogical DNA Analysis Tool or GDAT.

Genealogical DNA Analysis Tool (GDAT)

Becky Mason Walker’s Genealogical DNA Analysis Tool (GDAT) is the repository I use to manage my DNA tests.

The database is stored locally on my computer and has no connection to the internet. I can import DNA matches from the different testing companies, do triangulation and in common with (ICW) comparisons, map the chromosomes of common ancestors, mark the most recent common ancestors (MRCA), add Ahnentafels (tress) of the matches, and do analysis work that helps with the family tree research. The tool provides easier-to-see patterns and clues to solve the genetic genealogy questions with all information in one place.

Segment Maps

I’ve mentioned the color groups, Shared Clustering, and GDAT in previous posts.

Look Who’s Finally Taken the Autosomal DNA Test

Unraveling the Mystery of George W. Dempsey, son of Seaton Y. Dempsey and Clementine Gowing (Part 3)

Mapping DNA segments is something I haven’t written about.

GDAT automatically maps DNA segments when the MRCA (parental/maternal side and group name) is identified. GDAT chooses the color for the segment but allows the user to change it using a color picker.

Autosomal DNA Segment Map courtesy of the Genealogical DNA Analysis Tool (GDAT). Group names on right for MRCAs for surnames B-J.
Autosomal DNA Segment Map courtesy of the Genealogical DNA Analysis Tool (GDAT). Group names on right for MRCAs for surnames K-W.

The DNA segment map shows the paternal (top) and maternal (bottom) sides of each chromosome. In the examples, the maternal side is mostly dark gray as we share WILDINGER-FOURNELLE (our grandparents/Mom’s parents) with our mother.

Although many of the maternal matches on AncestryDNA have been identified, very few segments can be added to the map as chromosome information is not available on Ancestry. Those seen are from FTDNA, MyHeritage, or GEDmatch.

This post is about my paternal matches and therefore only the top bar of each chromosome is of interest.

Comparing sibling DNA

The color groups on AncestryDNA as well as those in the family tree are used to map the DNA segments. For the example, below, the green, pink, and yellow groups have only two shades. I’ve kept these groups simple to show that siblings don’t share all of the same DNA. They share about 50% of the same DNA. Less color makes it easier to see the four groups of the grandparents.

My paternal grandfather’s paternal ancestry, the blue groups, include purple for first cousins who share all four color groups and red to highlight our DEMPSEY brick wall. A darker blue is used for second cousins and lighter blues for more distant cousins.

The maps show all segment matches that have been assigned a most recent common ancestor (MRCA).

Side by side comparison of siblings’ DNA segment maps for all generations.

On chromosome 1, my DNA segments are from my father’s paternal side: PGF (blue and red) and PGM (green). My brother received mostly DNA from our father’s maternal side: MGF (pink) and MGM (green). On chromosomes 5, 10, 17, and 19 we share more DNA from the same groups. Still, there are gaps – chromosomes segments that have not been identified (light gray, see chromosomes 6, 7, and 9). These are segments that could lead to several of the brick walls in our tree including the ancestry of William A. W. DEMPSEY.

The segment map in GDAT can be filtered by generation making it easy to see where segments are coming from.

Generation 2 (1st cousins)

Cathy’s segment map for 2 generations.

Purple segments are 1st cousins who share our paternal grandparents, Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY and Myrtle Hazel ROOP – the generation 2 ancestors. These include 1st cousins once removed (1C1R), matches from the younger generation. Seven of the 24 grandchildren of Fred and Myrtle are represented in this map. More would be ideal but I am happy to work with what I have.

Generation 3 (2nd cousins)

Cathy’s segment map for 3 generations.

The dark blue and pink segments cover the purple segments as they represent one generation further back.

Dark blue segments are 2nd cousins who share William Henderson DEMPSEY and Laura Belle INGRAM. Matches have been found for six of their eight children who had descendants.

Pink segments are 2nd cousins who share Walter Farmer ROOP and Rebecca Jane CLONCH. Three of their six children have tested descendants.

Generation 4 (3rd cousins)

Cathy’s segment map for 4 generations.

Red, more easily distinguishable from the rest of the blue groups, is for 3rd cousins who share MRCA William A. W. DEMPSEY (parents unknown) and Sarah Ann WOOD.

Green segments are the 3rd cousins who share Irvin Lewis INGRAM and Mary M. DEMPSEY (no known relationship to William A. W. DEMPSEY).

Pink segments are the 3rd cousins who share Gordon Washington ROOP and Milla Susan PETERS.

Yellow segments are the 3rd cousin matches back to Alexander CLONCH and Tabitha Ann COOLEY.

Chromosome Analysis

Adding another generation to the map further breaks down the larger segments shared with 1st and 2nd cousins and adds identification to some blank segments.

In the example for the 4th generation, the middle section of chromosome 1 now shows red where previously no color was seen. These are 3rd cousins who share the DEMPSEY-WOOD ancestors. This red section is not visible in the map showing all generations (see the first segment map earlier in this post) as it is a segment shared with matches who have more distant ancestors in common – ancestors of Sarah Ann WOOD, the wife of William A. W. DEMPSEY.

On this breakdown of the segments on Chr. 1, the red segment identified as generation 4 is also shared by matches who have HONAKER-GOETZ of generation 7 as MRCA. I received this DNA from Frederick HONAKER, father of Rachel HONAKER who married Elijah WOOD. This segment cannot be used to find more distant ancestors of my brick wall William A. W. DEMPSEY as the DNA is from his wife Sarah Ann WOOD, daughter of Rachel and Elijah.

Focusing on my father’s paternal grandfather’s side using the blue groups

What have I been doing these past two-plus months? I’ve been populating my DNA database with matches, trees, and notes. I’ve been focusing on my father’s paternal grandfather’s side using the blue groups. More specifically, I’ve been concentrating on the matches that, I hope, will lead to the parents of my 2nd great-grandfather William A. W. DEMPSEY (1820-1867) of Rockbridge County, Virginia, and Fayette County, West Virginia (then part of old Virginia).

The amount of DNA we receive from a particular ancestor decreases with each generation. There is a chance that very little or no DNA was inherited from a specific ancestor. An ancestor did not pass on the same DNA to each of his children. Those children, with their different combinations of their parent’s DNA, passed on different combinations to each of their children. The more descendants tested, the more DNA can be matched to the ancestor.

I need more RED! I need 3rd cousins who descend from William A. W. DEMPSEY to transfer their raw data from AncestryDNA to FTDNA, MyHeritage, or GEDmatch so that I can analyze the DNA using a chromosome browser.

By paying close attention to the MRCAs and the segments shared with cousins, I’ve been able to eliminate those who are related to me through Sarah Ann WOOD’s ancestors. Those are the lighter blue segments that overlap the red segments.

Sarah’s ancestors came from lines where many descendants have tested. The Wood, McGraw, Honaker, and Wiseman families were large and intermarried. All four lived in Monroe County, West Virginia (then still part of Virginia) at the time it was created from Greenbrier County in 1799.

While I have large clusters of matches for these four families, the mysterious clusters that are associated with William A. W. DEMPSEY are confusing. I hope that some of his descendants may share one or the other of the light gray segments (non-assigned DNA). This would help to identify the area that I need to research to open the door to this brick wall.

Light gray segments (non-assigned DNA)

  • The gaps on the chromosome map have plenty of matches but the common ancestors in my tree haven’t been identified.
  • Some of the matches have ancestors in common with each other but these aren’t names found in my tree.
  • Many matches have small or no trees to work with.
  • I need confirmed cousins on the segment to help figure out where the mystery ancestors may fit in my family tree.

I’ve identified 87 3rd cousin matches descended from William A. W. DEMPSEY through my great-grand aunts and great-grand uncles. Of these 87, only 17 have their tests on sites with a chromosome browser. Do any of the others share non-assigned DNA segments with my brother or me?

What further complicates my William A. W. DEMPSEY brick wall is the fact that his descendants have more than one connection to me due to marriages of grandchildren and great-grandchildren to spouses who descend from other common ancestors, i.e. Wood, McGraw, Honaker, Wiseman, Sims, Johnson, Kincaid, Ingram, and my other Dempsey line.

Why not try Y-DNA?

My connection to William A. W. DEMPSEY is through my father (Fred), his father (Fred), his father’s father (William H.), his father’s father’s father (William A.W.). This would make the males in our family good candidates for Y-DNA testing. I have a paternal uncle, three brothers, and nine male first cousins who are descendants of William A. W. DEMPSEY. My grandfather Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY had six brothers; his father William Henderson DEMPSEY had three brothers.

I don’t feel comfortable asking relatives to do DNA tests, either autosomal or Y-DNA. I don’t have the time or want to put the effort into a Y-DNA project. However, if a direct-male descendant of William A. W. DEMPSEY has done the Y-DNA test or is planning on taking it, I would be happy to work with them on the genealogy side. I have a feeling the Y-DNA surname is not going to be DEMPSEY. Maybe someone can prove me wrong!

Why I wrote this post

When I write my ancestors’ stories, weaving the facts into the story and checking off the sources used, I usually find unanswered questions. Writing actually helps me think through things. So this post was primarily for me, to see if I am on the right track with the system and procedure I use for analyzing the DNA. If I can explain it and it makes sense (to me), I hope it also makes sense to my readers.

I know this is beyond beginner DNA. This might give you an idea of how, maybe a bit further down the road, you can work with your results. You might also be more advanced and able to give me some feedback on how you would treat a similar brick wall. Comments are always appreciated.

Lastly, I’d like to thank the cousins who’ve given me guest access to their DNA. I hope this will help them see how very helpful their data has been to me.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

52 Ancestors: #28 John COOLEY 1827-aft. 1900

52ancestors“The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

This is entry #28 in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

52 Ancestors: #28 John COOLEY 1827-aft. 1900

Door29lomoJohn COOLEY is the second brick wall in my series of posts for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. I’ve walked the full length of this brick wall searching for a door that will get me to the other side.

A small window that allows me to take a peek at what may be on the other side of this brick wall was created by Michael COOLEY, owner and administrator of Michael Cooley’s Genealogy Pages.

Michael and members of the John Cooley Mailing List work on finding information on the early American COOLEY lines and finding male descendants who are willing to take the Y-DNA test to prove the connections. Although emphasis is on the male line, members may opt to discuss a female line to get around road blocks.

My John COOLEY has been included in the list of Patrilineal Descendants of John COOLEY (ca.1740-1811) of Stokes County, North Carolina.  His line is “greyed out” as the assumed connection has not been proven. I shared information on living male descendants with Michael and hope at least one will take the Y-DNA test and be included on the Y-DNA Signatures of Early American Cooleys.

This Side of the Brick Wall

My 3rd great-grandfather John COOLEY was born in October 1827 in Missouri. I don’t know who his parents were. What I do know is that they, or at least his mother, had to be in Missouri in late 1827 [per 1900 census] when John was born.

The earliest record found for John was for his marriage in Meigs County, Ohio, in 1851.

“Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 Oct 2011), Meigs > Marriage records 1819-1852 vol 1 > image 270 of 277.

John COOLEY married Sarah Ann TREADWELL on Tuesday the 9th of September 1851 in Meigs County, Ohio. They were married by H. S. Lawrence, Justice of the Peace. The bride’s maiden name is most likely not correct.

There are several reasons for this belief:

  • Their daughter Ida’s 1870 birth record lists Sarah Jane TREADWAY. [line 1515]
  • Their children Calvin and Sally‘s death records have TREADWAY listed as the mother’s maiden name.
  • Finally, a great-granddaughter of their granddaughter Lorena Ellen CLONCH (md. 1st James Noyce SMITH, 2nd John TOMSHACK) has the family bible in which Sarah Ann is listed as TREADWAY. [For more than 10 years I haven’t been able to find out who the great-granddaughter of Lorena Ellen CLONCH is or where this statement came from. Maybe she will see this and get in touch.]

John was not located in the 1850 census. It is not known if he left Missouri soon after his birth or only just before he married Sarah. He could have lived anywhere between the time of his birth in 1827 and his marriage in 1851.

In 1853 John and his wife Sarah were living in Parkersburg, Wood County, (West) Virginia, when their first child Calvin was born. John’s occupation was listed as sawyer on his son’s entry in the birth register.

Daughter Melissa F. was born about 1855 in Cedarville, Ohio, according to her death certificate. Was this Cedarville in Greene County or Cedarville (historical) in Clinton, County? If this is reliable, Melissa may have been born while John and his little family were on their way west to Missouri. Was he going back to be with his family?

By 1860 John, a laborer, had moved his family to Lexington, Lafayette County, Missouri. John, Sarah, and their children Calvin, Melissa (seen below as Lucy), and Harrison, age omitted, are living in the boarding house of Frederick and Elizabeth King, immigrants from Germany. Young Harrison was born in Missouri.

1860 U.S. Federal Census > MO > Lafayette > Lexington > HH#523-582; online : accessed 6 April 2014

They did not remain in Missouri for long as they were back in Ohio when my 2nd great-grandmother Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY was born on 11 February 1861.

After Tobitha’s birth John was moving his family back and forth between Mason County, West Virginia, and Meigs County, Ohio. Or at least it appears this way when comparing the places of births of the children on the census. Sallie b. 1865 and Robert b. abt. 1868 are seen as born in West Virginia on the 1870 census when the family was living in Meigs County, Ohio. Ida, who was born in April before the census, was found in the Meigs birth register. Harrison, who was the youngest member of the family in 1860, appears to have died before the 1870 census. John, as a sawyer in 1853, is once again working in a sawmill in 1870.

1870 U.S. Federal Census > OH > Meigs > Olive > HH#319-304 []
John’s oldest children began to marry in the early 1870s giving us an idea of when the move to Mason County may have become more permanent. Daughter Melissa F. “Lucy” COOLEY married Henry Hartman BIRD (1833-1900) on 19 March 1871 in Meigs County, Ohio. Son Calvin COOLEY married Mary MacNeal CAMDEN (1855-1931) on 14 November 1872 in Mason County, West Virginia. Both of these children are seen as residents of the county they married in. The move to Mason most likely was between March 1871 and November 1872.

After coming to Mason County two more children were born: Minnie O. on 3 May 1873 in Arbuckle District and Timothy on 6 June 1876 in Hannan District. Even with six children in his household in 1880 John “adopted” two young children whose mother was born in Missouri. Was their mother a sister, niece or cousin of John COOLEY?

1880 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Mason > Arbuckle > Sheet 210A > HH #200 []
Following the 1880 census John’s daughters Tobitha and Sarah married.

Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY married Alexander CLONCH (1842-1910) on Thursday the 19th of August 1880 in Gallipolis, Gallia County, Ohio. The day after their marriage, in Mason County, “a heavy storm of wind, rain, and lightning, came up. The rain poured down in torrents, with flash after flash of lightning and peal after peal of thunder. It was a fearful afternoon and got so dark that lamps had to be lighted in the business rooms. During the time the lightning struck the Court House at the extreme point of the cupula, and descending the lightning rod jumped from it to the metallic roof, and from there to the spouting, clearing away about one half of the spouting on the east side of the house, following the spouting along until it again came in contact with the rod, when the fluid passed on down the rod into the ground. The rod is probably what saved the building.”[1] What a dramatic day after the marriage of my 2nd great-grandparents. It must have been a good omen as the marriage lasted 30 years, until the death of Alex at age 68. And to think that five months earlier Alex’s marriage to his first wife had been dissolved at that same Court House.

Sarah Ann “Sallie” COOLEY married Joseph Riley WAUGH (1860-1921) on the 14th of March 1882 in Gallia County, Ohio.

Unfortunately, not all news was good news during these times. John and Sarah’s 14 years old son Robert Ulysses S. Grant COOLEY died of typho-malarial fever on 2 November 1882 in Arbuckle District. Malarial fever was prevalent in the area at the time. The parents may have been ill or caring for others in the family as one of Robert’s sisters gave the information on his death. This may have been one of the older married sisters as Ida and Minnie were 10 and 8 years old at the time.

The Weekly register. (Point Pleasant, Va. [W. Va.]), 25 Feb. 1885. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
John and his son Calvin had some bad luck with horses in the 1884-1885. Calvin lost one of his team horses in June 1884. It had “died from scours, supposed to be caused from eating some weed that has made its appearance in our pastures, and of which considerable complaint is being made.”[2] In February of 1885 John’s horse fell on the ice on Nine Mile creek and hurt itself so badly it had to be killed.[3]

John’s son Timothy COOLEY married Lilly E. CROOKSHANK (1879-1961) on 19 September 1897 in Clay County, West Virginia. Most likely the COOLEYs and the CLONCHs moved to that county about the same time.

John and Sarah lost a daughter Melissa F. “Lucy” BIRD who died on 23 March 1898 in Bashan, Meigs County, Ohio. This was also about the time that the COOLEYs and the CLONCHs moved to the Dixie/Belva area of Fayette County, West Virginia.

At first glance the census listing for 1900 was overlooked as the surname was misspelled and John and his parents’ places of birth were seen as Mississippi instead of Missouri. A marriage record for John’s youngest daughter Minnie O. COOLEY helped to make the connection. Minnie married George WILSON (1849-aft. 1900) on 8 March 1900. She did not live long enough to be enumerated on the 1900 census but her widowed husband and a daughter from a previous relationship are seen living with John and Sarah COOLEY (misspelled Cowley) in Belva.

1900 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Fayette > Falls > Belva []
John and his wife Sarah were in their early 70s in 1900. Calvin, Tobitha, Sallie and Timothy were the only children remaining. No record has been found of their daughter Ida born in 1870 and last seen in 1880.

John and his wife were not found in the 1910 census. It is very likely that they passed away during the decade as they were getting on in age. I would have liked to have found a death record for John COOLEY with the names of his parents listed on it but that was not to be. By the end of 1913 only daughter Sallie WAUGH was still living.


[1] The Weekly register. (Point Pleasant, Va. [W. Va.]), 25 Aug. 1880. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

[2] The Weekly register. (Point Pleasant, Va. [W. Va.]), 25 June 1884. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

[3] The Weekly register. (Point Pleasant, Va. [W. Va.]), 25 Feb. 1885. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

© 2014, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.